On “Freebies”

No pretty pictures here. Just a statement.

One thing that has always been a thorn in my side in SL is the topic of freebies and gifts. I find it incredibly silly for people to log into SL and expect to “play” the game for “free” when a private company owns the servers the game is played on, a huge number of people put content into it every day from their own cost and skills, and people have to pay that company to put their content in world. I wrote a letter to Blue Linden about this last year.

I want to make a very strong statement about residents’ attitudes about hunts, freebies, etc. For every 99 grateful residents who enjoy the gifts they receive and the hunts that they participate in, there is always one jerk who makes it miserable for everyone else because they complain about lag, about the gift given, about where it’s set out or hidden, about how nothing will rez for them (probably because of client-side problems, but we won’t even go there), about how there are too many other people there trying to get the freebie for it to work.

Let me make something clear to you one percent who have complaints: that “freebie” you received DID cost something and the payback is often little or nothing, especially when a designer and the organizers hear disparaging comments.

What cost do designers incur, you ask? The designer is paying for the sim or parcel on which you are doing your hunt or getting your freebie. They paid to have it built, decorated, furnished, and monitored for lag or other problems either on their own time or their own dime. They also paid in time and skills in making that item you so blithely received and quickly put on and discarded and complained about. They are also asking their regular customers who pay for their work to suffer the lag and nuisance that comes of having extra avatars on the sim. There IS value to that “free” thing you received.

I hear from many of the complainers that their efforts in picking up that free thing drives traffic to a designer’s sim. If you know about how SL traffic is registered, the traffic number reflects occupancy of the sim of one minute per avatar per day, and it only counts if those avatars are there 5 minutes or more. (That means in order to get say, a traffic measure of 40000 for one day, a sim has to have at least 4000 avatars spend 10 minutes in the sim. Or 400 avatars need to spend 100 minutes in the sim. Were you to spend 24 hours in the sim looking for that freebie, you would only add 1440 to the bottom line. That’s it. And a touch down to grab a freebie registers as nothing.) It might give a boost in traffic the first day or two of the hunt but that’s it.

And what does a boosted traffic number bring anyway? A boost in classifieds, people argue. Truth is you have to have long-term, long-sustained traffic to see any substantial boost in classifieds because traffic numbers are zeroed out *daily.* One day of a hunt is not going to do much good. There are much more effective ways to push oneself up in classifieds than putting out a freebie or doing a hunt to increase traffic. Bottom line: Traffic is negligible.

I hear claim that the complainers spend money in the stores in which they are doing the hunts. Metrics shown to me by several designers disprove this. They don’t see a dramatic leap in sales after a hunt typically and generally don’t get people shopping in their stores because they are hunting for the gift, not shopping. It would seem a large portion of hunters are not spenders. They specifically want free things.

Why bother even giving gifts then? Sometimes designers are simply doing it out of good will—making fun for people, sharing their talents with residents, giving away a piece of themselves and their work. Many designers feel very grateful to their customer base and want to offer something to them and other shoppers they may have missed. Many want to get in on the fun. If you want to be more Machiavellian about it, perhaps they hope that they get to put their landmark in your inventory and give you a chance to see their work so you’ll come back and purchase. You paid very little for it because even your 15 minutes looking for it wasn’t as much time as the creator spent. It’s a gift or free sample, pure and simple. Accept it as such.

What’s it like when you complain about the freebie or gift you’re given? It’s just like you walked into someone’s home for a dinner they invited you to, trampled on their flowers on the way in, and then bitched about the decor of their house and the meal you were given. If you don’t like the thing given to you, throw it out and keep your mouth shut. And don’t go back the next time.

Thank those designers and organizers who provide the platform for you to enjoy your hours in SL. They are not required to. If they don’t, they don’t put their necks out there for criticism or complaints and their businesses go on just the same.

17 thoughts on “On “Freebies”

  1. I agree with you in general Harper. At the same time I have been in MANY hunts and listened to the designers bitch and moan about and connive how to make it harder (or impossible) for them to get a prize — and then chuckle about it. I actually left one group (not the hunt as that would have been tacky) over the attitude of the designers.

    So it goes BOTH ways.

    • I am not quite sure my point got across. I can’t back you up on your statement, Chic–it doesn’t really cut both ways. The hunters bring nothing to the table for a hunt except potential sales, and potential is simply that–no more. If a designer participates in a hunt and chooses to hide their item in a place that makes it impossible to find or talk trash in chat, the people looking for it will get a bad taste in their mouth and not come back. They will lose potential sales. That is the whole point of the blog. If you do a hunt, don’t like the items, don’t like where it’s hidden–walk away but keep your mouth shut because there are many people who have provided for that hunt to take place who have put in considerable time and effort for your enjoyment.

  2. Hi Harper, I not only speak for myself but a few others as we spoke about hunts last year and seems nothing has changed but got worse. Yes i do love hunts, its a way for me to find out if a sellers items are good and will therefore likey to spend lindens there, but theres ways too many hunts and people wont spent sad to say and my heart goes out to all those sellers who work hard for sl and have to close as no one is buying. It would be great to have 2-3 hunts a month, it gives us something to look for ward too, instead if it being a chore, people may then have more fun doi9ng other things and also spend. But great blog you did btw

  3. Hi Harper,

    I agree completely about this post. I participate in only a few hunts – namely Seasons, and if a friend is organising something I’ll take part – purely because I’ve found Seasons to be so much fun to be a part of, as well as do the hunt.

    I have found, as a business owner who draws income from SL, very little “point” to it. I try and make freebies every now and then, and they’re of the same quality (be that good or bad, haha) as the rest of my products, because I see it as a great way of advertising my items.

    I struggle with the lack of appreciation prominent in SL lately. I don’t want or need my ass kissed for everything I do, and I don’t mind at all when someone has a valid critique – it’s HELPFUL! – but the grabby hands, freebie snobbery attitude is exhausting.

    This was a great blog post, and I really don’t want to whine or complain because I am so lucky, I just wanted to contribute too :)

    Katey

  4. I, too, have grown a trifle disillusioned by the attitudes surrounding some sections of what I call the ‘freebie culture’ in SL, and it’s one of the reasons why I now blog more and more cheapies alongside the freebies. At least the creator gets some small remuneration from a cheapie item (although that isn’t of much help when they have someone demanding said item in a different colour, or what-have-you).

    I often feel guilty, too, of playing my own part in the whole freebie culture. The blog was initially set up as an experiment to see if I could get by using just money trees (initially) and freebies. I hope that, to some extent, I’ve evened out my SL karma with the newbie help and tutorials that I’ve given. Still doesn’t stop me from needing a break now and then when I see entitlement in all its ugly forms.

    As you said, Harper, there are many who pootle happily through their SLives on nothing but freebies, and are grateful to those that offer them. It’s seeing those that EXPECT it, demand it, and complain when they don’t get it/it’s not exactly what they want that bug the living daylights out of me!

  5. Creators are not forced to be in hunts or give freebies. It is their choice and shoppers and hunters should be grateful for that and, if they don’t buy anything in the store, should at least be polite and say thank you, if they meet the designers. And if you don’t like a freebie, you can move it to trash without complaining about it. Cause someone put a lot of effort into that!
    On the other hand, as I said, no one is forced to be in a hunt or give freebies. So setting your regular freebie as prize in two hunts is not ok and will do you no good. Or having the same prize in three hunts – of which two are going on at the same time. It does go both ways a little bit :)

    • No, no one is. It’s pretty cynical of you, however, to complain that they don’t give out three free things for three separate hunts. They can give out whatever they choose just as they can choose whether or not to do the hunt. If they choose to represent themselves in any way that might shed negative light on themselves, that’s their business.

  6. I completely disagree. One of things I find most laughable on SL is this bizarre idea that
    anyone can tell someone else how to play SL. It is none of your business how much or how little someone spends in SL. I know the freebie hunters are now one of the groups its ‘okay’ to hate, but its really not. You don’t get to even comment on what other people do with their money. Would it be okay if I told you it wasn’t okay to spend real money on your virtual self? Should I point out that this money could have gone to charity – something much more worthwhile than making an avatar look good? Because I’m guessing that this comment feels completely ridiculous, not to mention intrusive.

    As for your argument that its not effective for business’s to offer freebies, participate in hunts etc because of the 1 out of 99 complainers – would you run an SL business according to that 1 person, or the other 99? And lets not forget that business owners are here purely by choice. Accordingly, they can run their business’s any way they like.

    If you want to join the rank of people who are currently wandering the virtual wildness and telling others to get a virtual job, or lecturing them on contributing to the virtual economy, you might want to stop and remember that this is a game that owes us absolutely nothing. It could be yanked down by LL tomorrow and there wouldn’t be a thing any of us could do about it. Because of this, its a personal choice how much we choose to become invested in second life. You obviously spend a lot of money in SL and you’ve created a blog about it. This doesn’t translate into it being okay for you to criticise other players, even if ‘everyone else’ is doing it.

    • I am not sure how much content you add to Second Life, Asylum, but I do know that those who do put considerable time into it. The proliferation of quality content in SL is a direct result of creators being able to receive compensation for their contributions to SL. If we were to make them all give away free things and then criticize them for those free things, I think the enjoyment of this “game” would go down considerably.
      The game owes you nothing. You’re right. Stop bitching about the free things you get from it.

  7. I’ve never ‘bitched’ about anything i’ve ever bought or picked up as a gift or hunt prize in SL, thanks.

    • The blog is about people who complain about the freebies they receive. I guess you’re not part of that minority. Or you didn’t read the whole blog. My apologies for assuming you ever bitched about anything.

  8. I’m seeing more posts similar to Harper’s around the SL blogosphere. In most cases the complaint has a root that is about those with bad manners. Complainers tend complain in rude and often abusive ways. Often the complaints are worded in ways that shows a self-centeredness, little of any thought is given to how people will react to their complaint.

    Some complain to vent frustration. They have no idea such venting without permission is abusive. It just never occurs to them.

    Others are simply mean spirited. They may have been abused and are just acting out behavior they have learned without ever thinking about it. Whatever the case the mean spirit is venomous.

    Others tend to gain self-esteem by trying to pull others to a level lower than theirs.

    There is little that can be done with these people. We can’t really change them. Trying is usually frustrating. We can however change how we deal with them. Muting, blocking, banning, and any means of separating our selves from them tends to be the simple solution. Not a solution all business people are open to. But, as more and more people isolate the person they may eventually get the idea and change. Those banning them at least don’t have to deal with them.

    Remaining civil and avoiding commenting on the rude complainer’s personality or making ad hominem attacks separates people and shows character. It really is all about who we are, not them.

    • There is no doubt there are trolls in SL. This goes beyond that.
      There is a spirit of complaint that seems to come up during hunts where people somehow think because they have expended some effort to find something, they have a right to complain about it, contact the designer, make demands of the organizers, etc. Some people call it a “sense of entitlement.” I just plain call it obnoxious. It’s free stuff. Just skip it or throw it out if it’s not to your liking. No loss on your part.
      The problem is that when designers put gifts out (and that’s what they are–gifts.. not freebies, which implies something else), people think it’s ok to complain about the free thing given. It’s not. Make something better if you don’t like it. Run your own hunt.
      The economics of SL and the business model of LL is that it can not be run for free. This is not a government enterprise–it’s a private enterprise. No one is subsidizing your enjoyment.
      What it comes down to is you get what you paid for.

  9. Very thoughtful Blog post, Harper, I gave up both Hunting and being a Hunt Destination for lots of your stated observations. Instead I give my group members exclusive fun designs about once a week that I am not offering elsewhere. I set them out at 1L next to my group joiner sign to encourage new group members. Your traffic numbers are very revealing and I had observed that truth myself concerning Hunts. The ROI in SL is a very tough nut to crack but the creation process offsets the PITA factor;-)

    ETA: please excuse double post, I was not logged in.

  10. “What’s it like when you complain about the freebie or gift you’re given? It’s just like you walked into someone’s home for a dinner they invited you to, trampled on their flowers on the way in, and then bitched about the decor of their house and the meal you were given. If you don’t like the thing given to you, throw it out and keep your mouth shut. And don’t go back the next time.”

    Following your analogy…

    If I were invited to a dinner (that had been promoted as something wonderful for weeks before the event) and the host required me to search for my meal (after giving me a piss poor, obscure hint as where to find it) and after 20 minutes of searching around I finally locate a dried out piece of moldy Spam on a dirty plate, I think I have a right to be offended about being mislead and having my time wasted.

    Get it? The respect has to go BOTH ways.

    • You can be offended and never go back but is it really appropriate for you to have a temper tantrum in public about what you got as opposed to what you expected to get? Nope. I know YOU wouldn’t act that way, Dex. You simply wouldn’t go back. Or you’d excuse yourself and leave.

      With a “freebie,” you get what you pay for … Or maybe more ;)

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